I have had several direct calls from the Middle East in the last week, each one more awe-inspiring than the one before it. I am afraid it is way too easy for those of us living in the West where life still has some semblance of normalcy, to see the rest of the world as something off of this planet. Well, it is the West, that is by a lesser measure each passing day, where chaos and anarchy are still barely held at bay. Much of the rest of the earth, especially the Middle East is sinking into greater and greater chaos, death, and destruction. The Middle East is on Fire! This is the word I get every time I hear from the area.
For those who frequent this blog, you know that I do not sugar-coat what is happening in our world. Neither do I put a phony protective layer over the things that the Word of God has to say about the days we are living in. Nor do I avoid telling what is directly ahead of us in the days, weeks, and months to come. If you try to live in a self-made cocoon of safety, you will find that it will not provide you what you are looking for. It does not matter if you are keeping your ears protected from the world news or even avoiding the harsh realities that Jesus Christ Himself warned us about concerning the times of the end……those times are here and getting worse by the day. We are already in the birth pangs that Jesus said we would see at the end of the age. He, the Messiah, is the only hope for this world, and the only hope for any single human being that lives in this world. It’s non-negotiable!
In another series I am writing for this blog called “Suddenly”, I am gradually adding one article at a time describing some of the events that the Bible warns us are going to happen as the end of the age approaches–although each trend is not really so sudden. One of these is War. The Apocalyptic “Red Horse and Rider” found in Revelation 6 has to do with war like mankind has never seen. Without getting into eschatological doctrines, I am of the opinion that the four horsemen of the Apocalypse have already been released to circle the world over and prepare the earth for the last stampede of all four of them in synch. For anyone paying attention to the Middle East, you can see how the powder keg in the area is very close to exploding, and in a very big way. The fuse has already been lit and it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” it finally blows. When it does, it will involve the entire region, not just the nations currently involved today.
Right in the center of all of this chaos, death, and destruction however, there is now a large army of God’s special warriors who live for one purpose only! They want to reach one more person before they die. If they themselves die in the process, so be it. Not one of them knows in the morning if they will live until evening! They also never know if they will live to see the next morning! I must ask myself: Do I live with such an imminency to the possible sudden end of my life? Do you? Could you? The LORD has taught us to live with this type of expectancy and preparedness! The New Testament book of James speaks well to this subject:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money. Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. “ (NIV)
As I mentioned at the beginning of this update, I have received several calls this week. With each call, there is the good news and of course that tragic news of those who have lost their lives. Since my last update there have been several reports telling of the many who have made the eternal decision for Jesus Christ, the Messiah. The reports of these folks becoming believers are now regularly coming from Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, and of course where it started nearly 30 months ago in Jordan. What starts with one person, often a family head, then quickly reaches the entire family unit. Many of these families are very large.
Even though the “numbers” being reached is not the important thing, what is so very important, exciting in fact, is that such a multitude of people in a part of the world that has never heard of the love of God for the human race, are responding so quickly, so freely, in spite of (or because of?) all of the destruction and carnage around them. For many of them, it is the terrible times that is bringing them to this decision. In the last week there have been between 4,500 and 5,000 people who have decided to make Jesus LORD.
I have received several reports directly from the battlefields where all the bombing is going on. House Of Blessing missionaries are combing through the dead and dying, looking for those who are still alive so that they might pray with them. Scores of the dying are making last minute decisions to allow Jesus, the only true Savior, to forgive their sins and see to it that their names are recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life that the Bible tells us about. They then enter eternity with an entirely different destination than they would have before accepting the Lordship of the Messiah, Jesus. The missionaries put such a value on each and every life, no matter how evil the person may be, or what monstrous things they may have done in life, that they put their own lives on the line just to have an opportunity to maybe help them change eternal direction! That alone is a story that should be told in every church!
Some of the most amazing accounts come from the battlefields of Iraq and Kurdistan. ISIS has not been stopped, regardless of the reported airstrikes. In fact, there are now reports surfacing that some of the individual terrorist groups are beginning to join forces. There are vicious battles everywhere and fighter jets as well as helicopter gunships from quite a number of nations are involved in the strikes. We know that the U.A.E., Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, France, Great Britain, Belgium, Denmark, and the United States are involved in the hostilities–as well as maybe others. According to the latest news I have read, there is a coalition of about 50 nations involved, in one capacity or another.
It is hard for us who live in relative safety, to imagine the actual conditions our H.O.B. missionaries are living and operating in. Most of us have now seen photos of some of the tent cities that millions are now living in. Not all live in refugee areas where there are hundreds of thousands in one place. Many civilians live in smaller concentrations of tent villages or towns. In many of these towns there will be jihadist fighters, regular civilians including men, women, and children, all grouped up together. I watched a video clip photographed from a helicopter gunship where one soldier was warning the others handling the 30mm guns as well as hellfire missiles to be careful because children were seen entering the tents. The gunship would then wait until the obviously heavily armed fighter walked away from the tent area before making his strike. Unfortunately, as Bro. Omar, Pastor R****, and others have confirmed, there are still scores of civilian casualties. So, the missionaries continue with their gruesome work, looking for just one more soul still alive, hoping to be able to pray them into the Kingdom of God, not into the trap set by the false god, Allah.
An interesting story came in a few days ago concerning the “Widow Sisterhood” I have written about several times previously. This group of widows continues to grow in number and so I don’t know how many are in the group today. These women however have been located in northern Syria as of late and particularly along the Turkish border. These women, as they were moving through the battlefield, came across an oddity. Mofidah, the leader of this group noticed a little goat entering a hole in the ground. After it didn’t come out, she decided to follow it. As she got farther down into the hole, she found that it led to a very large cave. In this cave were over 200 people who had been hiding for about 18 months. These folks had been living in great fear of being found and so had not hardly seen the light of day for most all of this time. They did claim to be believers in Jesus and said that they spent their time in fasting and prayer for believers on the “topside”. As one can imagine, they were in very poor condition and the sanitary conditions were the worst imaginable. Mofidah and her group of women prayed to ask the Lord how He would have them handle the situation they were directed into. The Lord directed them to minister to them by washing them, caring for their wounds and diseases, providing as best as they could for them and then praying for the Lord to personally touch them.
After they did this, and the Lord had healed a great many of them, Mofidah was instructed to teach them from the Word of God, especially that God helps us not to live in fear as taught in 2 Timothy 1:7 where we are taught that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound disciplined mind.” God did not want these people living the rest of their lives in this hole in the ground while people all around them were dying without knowing about the One and only God who loved them. Even if some of them were to die, which was likely, they would be fulfilling the calling God had put on their short stay on this troubled planet. Again I must ask, How many of us could make the choice to ignore the dangers of standing up for the Name of Jesus Christ–even if it could cost us our physical lives? It is an easy thing to say “yes”; another thing to actually live out in reality!
Another piece of news that came in the last few days had to do with Pastor R**** himself. As most are aware, he is located in Syria, and has been for quite some time now. His locations have varied but usually somewhere between being near the southern Syrian border to being all the way within the metropolitan area of the capital itself.
Pastor R**** has been teaching groups of new volunteer missionaries for a very long time now, and does this within the confines of a group tent that can hold 80-100 people at a time. This has always been quite effective and his habit usually included teaching two groups per day, so as to get as many through a training as possible.
The other day, the fighting got way too close to his location and due to the explosion of what appeared to be a missile or bomb near his location, destroyed both his small personal tent as well as the group tent that he had been using for so long. The miracle of this event is that R**** was not injured. The sad thing is that the group tent was a total loss and what he does cannot be done out in the open.
I received a forwarded e-mail this morning from a Christian woman who told of a short dream she had just had this last week. In this dream, she saw a man, presumably R****, in the middle of a group of very large angels who were standing all the way around him, with their backs to him. At the time when what I’m assuming were bullets and shrapnel started to fly, these angels pulled together into a solid protective wall and not one piece of shrapnel or bullet hit him! I believe this to have been a true dream from the Lord. God keeps an eye on His own, and there is nothing on this earth or planned by hell itself that can take us down until it is God’s time for us to go home. I have seen this again and again in my own life and now that I’m so much older, I still count on it!
The call from Pastor R**** yesterday was from a man quite tired and a bit discouraged. He has lost his tent and he has many waiting to be trained. I also know that he is quite ready to “go home” when it is God’s time for him to do so. He thought that time had come the other day, and I think part of him was disappointed. Yet, it was not God’s time.
I ask you all to pray that R**** receives direction from the Lord on whether to move to a new location. It is an answer he needs quickly. Obviously there is the need for another group tent. Let’s pray to the Lord of the harvest that this need be met, and quickly. He has found a used one that would work but it must be purchased along with the normal equipment and set-up for a tent of this size. $3,000-$4,000 is the need. Time is of the essence! People are dying all around and the Middle East is only heating up.
With all these things in mind, I would like to end this update with a couple thoughts. Jesus said some things in His sermon on the mount that do not “fit” well with the lifestyles of many people today–at least in the West. He had this to say:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek the kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
When we read the things Jesus had to say, it is no wonder that so many people would rather not take Jesus’ teachings too literally! Maybe because of this, Jesus made the comment that the gate to Life was a narrow gate and the road to Life was a narrow road…and few there would be that would find it! This is why Jesus taught so much about putting our treasures in Heaven instead of on this earth. What we can accumulate on this earth is temporary and can’t be taken with us. What treasure we put into Heaven cannot be stolen from us out of our houses nor can it be lost by economic collapse, neither will it rot away. In this world we can lose everything overnight.
I could not help thinking about the missionaries in the Middle East when reading through these things that Jesus taught. It seems that the greatest harvest of souls usually comes during the worst of times. Right now, it is the bloodiest of times in the Mideast! House of Blessing, Jerusalem, has missionaries spread throughout Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Kurdistan, and Syria. Syria has been in the middle of a civil war now for over three years and the official numbers say right around 200,000 but some unofficial figures I have seen from some news sources put the number possibly close to 500,000. There is no sign of any end; in fact, it is escalating feverishly, partly due to the onslaught of ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.
Where this all leads and what effect it will have on us all is saved for another article, but suffice it to say that we live in the most unique time in history. The Bible has more to say about the next few years than it does about the entire time that Jesus spent walking the dusty roads of Israel. Yet, most people know very little about these times. It is now imperative that we pay attention. It was a command of the Messiah Himself! He’s about to call His own home and most Christians don’t even know it!!